June 2012

FIRST CHAPTER!

Diary of a Sorority House Mom is finally, at last, available for pre-release sale at a reduced price while we wait for the e-book conversion to be completed. At that time, it will be available in bookstores, and online at Amazon/Kindle.

For now, it can be ordered at my publisher’s bookstore. The link is http://www.createspace.com/3848456

Here’s the first chapter to give you an idea of what you’re in for. I wish I’d known.

Hope you enjoy.

 

Chapter 1

First Impressions

Why was my heart racing? I had sung before thousands of people; spoken in front of filled auditoriums. Yet in this majestic living room half a continent away from my home and surrounded by about 80 co-eds, I was terrified.

While the president and sorority members voted on house rules and contractual matters for the upcoming year, my eyes surveyed the room. This was definitely not a cookie cutter sorority house. Granted, we had the stereotypical Blond-Haired-Blue-Eyed-Susie-Sorority-From-The-Silent-Majority type, but there were also girls from a multitude of Asian, European and South American nations. Over a dozen states were represented.

I was in one of those pregnant-in-thought moments when the advisor tapped me on the shoulder and spoke words that opened my sweat glands:

“Ladies, this is our new house director, Ann Hyman.”

No turning back.

After a round of snapping (the universal sorority equivalent of clapping) the questions started flying.

“Are you in a sorority?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have kids?”

“Yes. My daughter graduated from college last December.”

“What does she do?”

“She coaches at a university in Southern California.”

They thought that was pretty cool.

Patrice, the sweet-spirited and sparkly-eyed president who hired me, took her place by my side and presented me with a gift certificate in the amount of $150 for a massage at a local, high-end resort. The girls had taken up a collection to thank me for getting the building painted, flowers planted and watered back to life (my predecessor had turned off the sprinkler system in June) and the house in beautiful order to save them valuable time during prep week. I almost cried.

The advisor returned to my side and told the girls they had all year to ask me questions and to give me a chance to speak.

Deep breath.

“Ladies,” I said, “This is my first experience living in a sorority house, and I’m really excited to be here,” which received a rousing round of “snap, snap, snap.”

 

Another deep breath.

“Unlike most of my contemporaries, I get sorority life and understand that college kids smoke, drink and have sex. But you can’t do it here”

A hand shot up. “I don’t smoke.”

This time the room erupted in laughter and the cute little blond’s friends jostled her from all sides.

“OK,” I thought, “this is going pretty well.”

And then the real questions started flying:

“Can we recycle liquor bottles?”

Wow.

“Come on, guys,” I laughed, “you just voted on a contract that says the house is dry.”

The advisor stood again, thanked me for my time and said we’d cover house rules later.

I returned to my second-floor apartment, pressed my back against the closed door and said it out loud. “What was I thinking?”

 

Ten minutes later the advisor knocked on my door.

“The girls want to know if they can recycle liquor bottles.”

“You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me,” I answered.

“What should I tell them?”

“Tell them they can’t drink in the house.” She had been their advisor for over eight years. Why was she asking me?

Only minutes later there was another tap on my door. She was back. “Can they put the liquor bottles in trash bags and recycle them?”

I explained that the recycling was separated by glass, plastic and paper, so that option wasn’t viable either. She turned to leave and I shut my door again.

This time it took a full five minutes before the knocking resumed.

“Can they get trash bags from the kitchen and take them to a frat house to recycle?”

Good God.

“What the hell,” I said, “Why not.”

I flopped down on the couch to call my Abbi, and said, “I’m in for a hell of a ride.”

“Mom,” she laughed, “I spent twenty-three years training you for this job.”

 

To order, go to the publisher’s website at

http://www.createspace.com/3848456

See you tomorrow. Be safe out there.

 

  

 

MY FIRST THOUGHT WAS…….

I woke up Abbi’s couch this morning  and with my eyes still closed, my first thought was that I have to start going through the stuff in Abbi’s apartment, the back of my car, and our storage unit to pick out stuff I need for the trip (or the trip as I know it today) taking me to a fire zone and Mid-continental heat that would make the devil himself envious.

And made the decision not to touch anything until Abbi and her Aussie are off on a camping trip, because it’s going to make a huge mess in her apartment. For someone whose pre-adult space was in danger of being condemned by the county, Abbi has emerged as a neat freak. Her apartment is always picture-perfect-dust-proof-Architectural-Digest-ready (except when her mother is camping in the living room). While they’re sleeping in tents, I’ll be able to dismantle all the necessary crap and repack/re-arrange/re-store everything.

My last thought in the trip zone was that except for toiletries, I shouldn’t need to take anything. If it weren’t for the Puritans that started this great country, I wouldn’t need any clothes for 100+ degree heat. I mean, after all, you can put on enough clothes to get warm, but you can’t take off enough clothes to get cool. Nowhere in Genesis do I find “and on the 21st day, God created closets.” Adam and Eve travelled light. They could pick their wardrobe from leaves and bushes. Not sure where civilization went wrong.

Then, my mind took a short detour ( eyes still closed) to a package that needs to be returned, when it will be too hot this morning to make the five-block walk to the UPS store and closest Bank of America location (the high today should be about a barely-comfortable 80 degrees), and whether I should be here or not when Hillary the Hero comes over to help Abbi with her website. And if I decide not to be here, should I take the car, go to the UPS store, BofA, and hit some used book stores in search of books on tape that will probably end up being purchased at Barnes and Noble anyway. And that I need to look online to make sure the Audio Book Store in Oklahoma City is still open.

Which brought me to where to stay while I’m in Oklahoma City — and whether to set a pre-determined amount of time to visit, or just camp out at one friend’s house for awhile and then head for another until I’ve run out of cheeks to pinch, people to hug, and spare bedrooms (or get bored)…..There’s Kenneth and Lori and their beautiful baby, Tripp. I can’t wait to pinch those  little cheeks. He’s such a miracle. They’re going to throw a party so I can see a bunch of my University of Central Oklahoma kids (who are now in their early thirties). And Jenni and Jason Hawkins, along with their kids Jerzie, Jaxon and I can’t remember the other “J” name. Jenni was first Abbi’s cheer coach, then her team member, and Abbi was a bridesmaid at her wedding. Jenni and Jason took Abbi to her first frat party (we still need to talk about that; she was 14). And Sarah, my sorority sister. The last time we alums got together in her back yard for her perfect margaritas, food, more of her perfect margaritas, and the obligatory passing around of the phone to assure Abbi her mom was fine if she happened to call, we ended up making a side trip to crash the UCO chapter’s “sisterhood retreat” to teach them songs like, “Never trust a Sigma Nu an inch above the knee” and “God Damn, Son of a Bitch, I Don’t Give a Flying Fuck,” along with an instructional in the art of the shimmy. And of course, there’s Mary and Lina and their beautiful family of horsies.

Which jump-shifted into the lessons dad taught me in the short 14 years he was physically here — to watch the white line on the side of the road while driving at night so the headlights of other cars wouldn’t blind me, that the gentleman should always walk on the outside, and that everyone is the same until they proove themselves otherwise. He would have approved of Mary and Lina being married.

And how he used to stay at home on Sunday morning watching church services on the black and white television set rather than follow my mother’s directive that ‘if you don’t go to church on Sunday, you don’t go anywhere,’ and follow her — like it or not — to Oakwood Baptist Church. He didn’t like the hipocracy of men who would shake his hand at the door with, “Welcome, Brother Hyman,” but walk right past him on the street when he was wearing his postman’s uniform. In my eyes, he was more of a Christian than any of them.

My next flip lead me to the fact that before the war the Good Old U S of A started in Iraq to vindicate daddy’s failure to capture Hussein and the need to protect that president’s oil buddies’ interests, most of the conflicts on this planet have been waged over “My God’s better than your God……”

which brought me to how much trouble my mind (and mouth) have gotten me into over the years.

I asked way too many questions…..first of Baptist ministers at my church and Camp Cowan, and the pentecostal ministers in churches Bill and I attended in our years together, and my rabbi.

“If God has so many names, how do we know that the names other religions have for their Gods aren’t just names we don’t know about?”

“Yeah, I know what the New Testament says, but the Book of Mark (the first published book of the NT) was written 30 years after Jesus died. I’m 14, and can’t remember who was in my kindergarten class. That was only 10 years ago.”

“If the New Testament was put together by a committee, how do we know what they left out? Since all the books follow the same theme, is it because they picked and chose because of their own agenda?”  (followed years later by) “With all the new information discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls, why aren’t we making a bee line to discover what they say so we can add them to the New Testament?” I, for one, would love to read the Book of Mary. Afterall, the fact that Jesus was a Jew is because of her lineage.  (Question to rabbi many years later, “Why is lineage through the mother?” Answer: “Because we’re sure who she is.”)

The two that pissed everyone off (except for my rabbi, of course) were “If Jesus didn’t think anything he said was worth writing down, why do we need anything but the books he studied in the Torah?” and the obvious follow-up, “How can anyone follow Jesus and be anything but a Jew?” Haven’t gotten an answer that makes sense yet. But it sure is fun to keep asking.

Those were the questions before my mom died.  Going through her boxes I found newspaper clippings that affirmed my beliefs. I was born a Jew. I always knew I was a Jew — used to tell kids at Baptist Camp that I was. Didn’t have a clue what it meant, but knew in my heart of hearts that I, like Jesus, was a Jew.  Remembered the times back in Charleston, when we went to my namesake’s kids’ Bar Mitzvahs (dad insisted I be named after Annilee Hallum Bloom). I walked into the temple late (perfectly acceptable for any Jew), sat between people I’d never met, picked up a prayer book and chanted right along; not having a clue where the pronounciation and notes were coming from — but they were right.

After that discovery, I couldn’t wait to get back to Oklahoma City and go through a full conversion. Though I’d been involved in some type of church my entire life, I never felt at peace until I walked into a synagogue, sat through a typical Saturday morning 3-4 hour Shabbus service and listened to scriptures chanted in a language I didn’t understand with tears streaming down my face.

Which lead to more questions/debates with my rebbe during my conversion. To Jews, it’s almost obligatory to spend hours debating scripture, law, etc. It’s common for someone to bark a challenge at the rabbi in the middle of his Torah lesson (sermon), and for a debate to ensue before the rabbi is allowed to re-take control. So the fact that I was questionning what he was teaching was no big deal — even the New Testament talks about Jesus challenging the elders. But our debates got so heated that when I exited his office, his secretary wouldn’t look at me. She could hear us through the walls.

“When the Israelites asked for meat in the desert, why did God give them poultry?” He called his wife. (That’s no surprise either. It’s assumed she is as knowledgeable and wise as the rabbi.) His answer was that it would be easier for them to keep Kosher while they were on their road trip, which lead to my follow-up question, “What if God just said ‘no’.”   He didn’t like that. Or, “If we can’t s seeth a calf in his mother’s milk, why can we serve chicken and egg in the same meal.”

Any more than he liked my challenge that the 10 Commandments are in ascending order. He said they were all equal. I told him that if David had never coveted Bathsheba, he never would have committed adultery, stolen Uriah’s wife, and had him killed.

And here we are. I don’t understand the need for organized religions. At the base, they’re all the same. All believe in a supreme being. That there is some kind of plan in place, and each of us has a starring role.

I have friends who are Wicca. In San Francisco, it’s a recognized religion.

They don’t go out looking for converts and don’t talk about their ‘faith’ unless someone questions. They let the universe revolve around them without trying to make others line up like little ducks to follow them, and worship the creator through the creation. Their highest mandate is, “First, do no harm.”

What if the whole world operated under that premise. Wars would cease. There would be no necessity for laws, police to enforce them, lawyers/judges/courts to interpret them.  If someone was a danger to himself or others, the first thought would be to get him help. It seems to me that after “First, do no harm,” the next step would be, “How can I help.”

I’m finding myself in a kind-of-John-Lennon-ish-zen-like time where I honestly don’t understand where the world got so far off course. Is this what God intended when he invested millinium planning what to do in each of the seven days it took to form the earth as we know it? Did he know his highest creation, man, was going to be a total fuck up? That man’s highest goal would be to destroy his planet and everyone that didn’t see things his way?

I was raised to believe that evil is created by “free will.” Obviously, I’ve screwed up more than my share of the time by exercising my own free will. But I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly hurt anyone (except breaking Joey’s heart because I wasn’t ready to settle down when he was). If I hadn’t been so self-absorbed, I would have stayed in the best relationship this life has thrown my way. But he wouldn’t have married Sue, and they wouldn’t have had their beautiful daughters. I wouldn’t have Abbi. The world would be a different place. So does that mean we are “pre-ordained”?  And how can “pre-ordained and “free will” co-exist, even though we’ve been taught they do? I don’t know.

Maybe that’s the core of why I’m on this journey. Maybe by stripping myself of the “things” that have owned me and letting go of the dock, I’m on a quest to reboot my system, hoping to emerge as the person I should have been all along. I’ve already seen so many changes.

I’m on a day-to-day trek now, not really knowing what the next day will bring but excited to wake up each morning to see. Though I don’t know much of anything about what Wicca’s believe other than their first tenet, I’m going into my new life with the goal of “First, do no harm.” I’ll let the universe take care of the rest.

But I’m pretty sure my existence will never again include arranging my spices alphabetically by cooking and baking.

Wow. That was a ramble. Thanks for staying. It’s 10:30 now. Hillary will be here half an hour, and I’d better put on clothes and decide whether to stay or go — quickly.

Once again, I’ve got to quote Dann Saxton and my punk rockers, Kill the Complex. “That’s all I wanted anyway, to be the creator of the soundtrack to my own life.”

So until tomorrow, create your own soundtrack, and stay safe out there.

 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

I’m a relic. You know that.

Social Media to me means joining associations, clubs, social groups, hell — even going to synagogue every now and then — attending mixers held by the chamber of commerce, sitting on boards and committees, being involved in a multitude of networking groups at the same time, meeting colleagues after work for drinks….. You know, fun stuff that puts you next to or in front of or beside or across the hall or eating/drinking with people. Real live, breathing people. This, I not only “get,” I enjoy. I love. I get excited about. I look forward do.  (Except for that getting dressed, fixing my hair and putting on make-up thing. But when I did all the above, I was in a place where that was my normal routine anyway. I even wore heels.)

And that’s part of the problem. I don’t seem to “be in a place” right now.

I can still join national associations: my sorority, Sisters in Crime, etc., but local organizations. I don’t know where local is. So I’m not in a position to hit Book Passage the first Monday of the month for Left Coast Writers and the traditional lifting-of-the-glass at Izzy’s afterwards, or take a field trip to the chocolate (or saki) factory with my sorority alumnae girls, or hit the shooting range with my Sisters in Crime crew, or belong to a writing critique group that gets together every couple of weeks to eat/drink and lovingly tear each other’s work into little, bitty blood-soaked pieces.

All I have left from my past life is going to friends’ book signings when we all go out for drinks afterwards. Luckily for me, there are writers all over the country — I just have to be in the right place at the right time.  By the way, Simon Wood and Juliet Blackwell have new books in print and Cornelia Read has one coming out in August. Buy them. Now. (You can wait until August to buy Cornelia’s.) I get to travel to Orange for Simon’s reading this Saturday, and I’m really excited to see him again. But because of Facebook, I also know he’s in a sad place because his beloved sidekick, the long-haired weenie dog Royston is not doing well. Royston’s looking really tired in his pictures, and that’s never a good thing.

So, here I am. Functionally illiterate in a digitalized age kind of way.

Abbi is pulling me kicking and screaming into the new millinium.

I’ll never forget the day she sat me down in her old apartment in Burbank and I watched with glazed-over eyes as she set me up on Facebook and MySpace. No, I never did anything with the MySpace account because by the time I figured out the Facebook end of things, I’d forgotten the MySpace username and password. Now, of course, I’m religiously on Facebook sharing cartoons and seeing what people ate for lunch and commenting on their cute baby/cat/dog and getting in long debates with a bunch of people I don’t even know. And it gives me a whole new venue to piss people off, which seems to be a gift of mine. (I had no idea Republicans were so testy. Don’t they understand that politics are the best source of humor this country offers?) It also gives me the availablity to share the joy and pain of someone who might not have been in my life otherwise.

Because of my life on Facebook, I got into a situation where I got voted off the island. That’s another story.

Bill and I had nine moves in ten years with the Air Force. Back then, if several families got rotated at the same time (which happened often), we’d totally lose each other. I miss so many of them. Now, my kids graduate, get promoted, move all over the world,  and we can stay in touch. I like that.

I’m so blessed to have been able to connect with people I knew in my high school and college days. It’s so strange realizing that those of us who seemed so different back when Weejuns and madras were status symbols were so very much alike. We weren’t allowed to ‘air our dirty laundry’ back then, so no on knew what was going on behind closed doors…..which is also hard to believe since there was no air conditioning and all the windows were open. When my dad yelled his signature, “God Damn It To Hell,” everyone within half a mile knew something was up. And that it was up with Bill Hyman and his family.

But now? Holy freaking cow.

Just when I was getting so proud of myself (and content with) mastering Facebook to the point that I can’t go half a day without checking in for new cute cat pictures, Abbi tells me I need to get involved in LinkedIn. So I am. Kinda. I mean, I’m sending requests when LinkedIn e-mails me a picture with “connect” under it and accepting people who request I do the same, but I have no idea what to do with it. Do I send people messages? Is there a way to send a blanket communication? Do I set up groups? (And what the heck are these new Group A, Group B things on Facebook?) Do I just post my current crap and hope someone reads it? I don’t understand.

And Twitter. Why does everyone “tweet” when it all goes to Facebook anyway? Why not just post on Facebook?

Skype? That’s something I think I’d enjoy — especially with friends I haven’t seen for years or love enough that I want to see their face when we talk. But my computer doesn’t have an eye-thingy to make that possible, and I won’t be getting a new computer until Dr. Robert tells me to call the priest/rabbi.

You know I don’t own a phone with a computer in it. Yes, I should. Why? Don’t have a clue. But it seems to have become very important that I’m available 24/7 to anyone who needs to send me a picture of their drink from Vegas at 4am. Or that I be able to have the football game playing beside me while I drive (OK, that would be cool), but I can still listen to it in the car.

I remember sitting on the side of my bed, staring at the radio while The Lone Ranger and Tonto chased the bad guys. Wanting to yell, “Look behind the tree!” as the bad guys approached. Visualizing instead of watching made the action seem so  intense. The cool part was that very late at night, when other electronic signals weren’t clogging the airways, my little bedside buddy could pick up Wolfman Jack on WLS in Chicago from my little bedroom in Charleston, West Virginia.

“We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog.”

I want to post reviews on my friends’ books on Amazon, but it won’t let me. So, I type up the review and e-mail it to the friend so they can go in under my username and password (when I can remember them) and post the review themselves. You can stop laughing now.

When someone sends me a text, I have to wait until I’m in front of the computer to send an e-mail reply. Why, you ask? Because my relic phone still has three letters on each number so “Why” becomes “wgw.”  If I want someone’s name and number in the phone, they have to add it while we’re together. I interrupted a couple having a romantic moment on Newport Beach to take a picture of the sunset and stood there while they uploaded it as the phone’s screensaver. Yes, it was embarrassing. They probably figured I’d escaped from ‘the home,’ and got a kick out of helping me in my few minutes of freedom. After all, who doesn’t know how to do these things. Right?

Abbi’s newest project was to upload a couple thousand songs onto an MPG player so I can have music on my road trip without having to punch every button and hope to find something in English. Do I plug it in one ear so I can hear the police sirens behind me because I was too intent singing along with Elton John’s “Yellow Brick Road” to know my foot tapping has propelled me 20-miles over the speed limit? Is there a way to plug it into my car radio, remembering my car is seven years old? So much to learn.

The good news is that for three weeks of the next month, maybe longer,  I’ll be with friends who only laugh at me with love. I’m pretty sure by the time I return from my wanderings, I’ll be SO ready to face the world. Or be more apt at communicating with it……at least to the extent these tasks can be accomplished without buying a new phone or computer. We’ll see.

In the meantime, there’s a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and and I’ll spend the rest of the day shopping for a bunch of  books on tape for my road trip. I’m excited to be able to go to my Audio Book Store in Oklahoma City where I can trade the ones I’ve already heard for new ones. I miss that — and the people who worked there. That’s the kind of social networking I get.

See you in the morning. Until then, stay safe out there.

SO I MADE THESE PLANS……

Abbi’s Aussie is coming back to town on the 3rd, and I need to disappear for a month (hopefully, for good).

So…..my first thought was to head back to my beloved Bay area, the land of my people.

I made a few phone calls, and my friend Sondra James from good old CHS offered to put up with me for a week. One of my first pledge class members offered me her loft, and another week was handled. This was going to be fun.

I’m planning to do research for a couple of projects that involve the Berkeley campus, and spend time in Book Passage’s coffee shop,  just like the good old days. I could even stick around and attend a Monday night Left Coast Writers meeting.  Have Izzy’s perfect skirt steak, Izzy potatoes, and creamed spinich along with their most excellent mojito. Spend time with my writer friends. Get my sorority girls together for an evening. And there are so many harbors from Oakland to Marin or even up into the Delta that I could check out for slip fees and boats for sale. I was so excited.

Then, my friend Peggy called. It only took the sound of her voice to make me long to see her, and the term “Road Trip” came to mind. It had been so long since I’d packed up everything and hit the road. Ours is one of those beautiful friendships where no matter how long we’re apart, we’re never apart. We pick up right where we left off every time. I miss her so much. The added benefit would be to see if my body could take the necessary hours on the road. I still have problems sitting for long periods of time, and my right leg has issues with anything but cruise control, but maybe long-distance driving could work out the kinks. Plus, I have these great Lidoderm patches. Either way, we could sip wine on her back porch, talk about the absurd twists our lives have taken since we first met in ’85, play in her garden, and get that close-friend experience I miss so much. The last time I spent time with her, her baby girl Brooke was ten and I was making her repeat, “Life’s too short to drive a hard top,” enough times that she’d remember it when she turned 16. She graduated from college in May. We’re way overdue.

After spending time with Peggy in Denver, I could make the one-day drive back to Oklahoma City. I know — Oklahoma in July — not the best time of year for a visit. The locals are already complaining about the heat, and after six years in California, I’ve become a local wimp who complains when the temp hits 80 degrees. 72 degrees is perfect beach weather. I started sweating just thinking about it, but also started getting excited yet again.

It’s been years since I’ve been back. Babies have been born. “Kids” have started new businesses and returned from their Middle East military tours. I need to pick up real Thunder gear. There are so many friends I want to see…..and I miss my four sorority nieces like nothing else.  I want to see my J Robb dance and go listen to Brittney’s husband sing in a club. Meet Crystal’s husband and hug her little boy. And Lori is getting married in October. Just an afternoon with those four would warm my heart more than the Oklahoma sun. I’d love to go to Early Bird Acres to see my beautiful little Alpha Xi, Samantha Joelle Honey Lamb, who somehow evolved from the girl we deemed most likely to become a trophy wife into a self-sustaining farmer/rancher, artist, and successful photographer in remote Hobart,  and does it all in a sundress and boots. We could bake pies and catch up.  Of course, there’s always my local alumnae association, so a trip to Sarah’s back yard for margaritas, food, and laughter as well as getting to hug her menagerie of cats would be in order.  There’s Mary and Lina and their farm complete with horsies…….so many more reasons to want to go back to the place Abbi and I lived for 18 years.   I could also find out why she never received her piece of paper from Central Oklahoma stating she finally, at last graduated.

My Alpha Xi’s moved into a big sorority house from the 7-person residence they had when I left. I’d love to see that house — maybe meet some of the girls who call me “Auntie Ann” even though I’ve never met them.

And I could do research on my manuscript that already has an agent. He wants me to add more terror. I haven’t been able to rewrite it because it’s set in the Oklahoma City area that has changed considerably in the six years I’ve been gone. I need to scope out sites in the book, take pictures, get one of my nursing graduates to take me through their hospital so I could see the physical relationship between different departments and find out where high-school kids party now that “Grass Fire” is covered by a housing development.

Oh — and go to Eishen’s for their amazing fried (skinless) chicken — and Stillwater for the Hideaway’s BBQ chicken. And Eskimo Joe’s. I love the Oklahoma State campus.

I immediately started sending facebook messages and e-mails to my peeps in OKC to see who wanted custody of me. Those plans were coming together swimmingly, until……

Abbi came home last night and asked if I wanted to puppy sit for one of her friends from the 3rd to the 8th, and it sounded like she’d already kinda told them I could.

Now, I’m back to the drawing board. Rescheduling, reworking plans, and waiting to see what happens next.

I’m loving this life of unpredictibility. More than I’d ever imagined.

I still wish I could rescue Kenny G, but it doesn’t seem that’s going to happen for awhile. I’m sure none of the friends I’d be visiting would mind having his big, furry body show up with me, but returning (assuming I return at all) to Abbi’s, Nyla and Mox would be really pissed off, which would in turn get me a lecture from Abbi. My, how times have changed.

So, I’ll take a day off, go to the beach since it looks like I won’t be seeing ocean for awhile, and start refining plans tomorrow.  If the stupid settlement didn’t have a penciled-in projected final date for sometime in August, I’d hit Denver, then OK, head for Dallas, maybe take a side trip to New Mexico or Arizona to see friends,then Houston.  After spending a day or so with a couple of our University of Central Oklahoma ids in Houston and submerging my body in the balmy waters of the Gulf, I’d take a left, head to see Kristy Sullen (who was in gymnastics with Abbi at the age of 6) in New Orleans. She runs an animal rescue called “Save an Angel,” and I’d love to help her out for awhile…..and from there? I’ve got kids and friends all up the east coast and most spots in between. I’d love to spend a couple of days in Charleston, WV. It’s my hometown, and I literally escaped in ’69. Now, a different person, I’d like to return and catch up with people I didn’t even realize were my friends at the time.

Of course, there would be stops in North and South Carolina. I still am dying to go mining for gems with Lynn Crislip, want to catch up with Sherry Doss, Lynn Tincher, Margi Moses, Vicki Smith…..so many…..and spend a couple of days seeing friends in Myrtle beach; tanning myself on a chair at the surf line or parasailing by day and dancing the shag into the wee hours of the morning. The shag is so wonderfully smooth that it puts no strain on my knees or back.

A year on the road would be so much fun. The good thing about writing now is that I can do it from anywhere. Then, next fall I could take one of the Alpha Gam jobs at USC or UCLA if they still want me, and be back in Los Angeles. Strangely, I’ve grown to love this city — and being close enough to Abbi that we’re able to get together when we want, but far enough away that we’re not in each other’s space (unlike now when I’m RIGHT in her face).

Serendipity seems to suit me. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Until tomorrow, be careful out there. I’m sure there will be more changes by tomorrow.

WHY CAN’T THINGS JUST WORK?????

This is not the topic I’d intended on writing after last week’s MIA/AWOL, however…….

I signed up for this great service about 6 months ago — and it really is a great service. It’s called JustAnswers.com.  For $55/month you can ask an unlimited amount of questions to attorneys of any specialty (state-based attorneys), physicians, engineers — the list goes on and on. Of course, there’s no confidentiality and you don’t have a real lawyer or have to pay for parking at a doctor’s office, but it’s a great baby step. For someone like myself, it’s great because I want to make sure my facts are on point before making decisions.  Unfortunately, for the last several months I’ve been in a situation where I need to fact-check before dialing phones, e-mailing, etc. And they’ve been amazing.

Except! It keeps refusing to let me in.

I have four passwords for just about everything internet-based, and it won’t accept any of them. So, I contacted customer service and they switched me over to my seldom-used e-mail address. Unfortunately, my debit card payment isn’t attached to that account so it wants me to pay for the answers. And back to customer service that sends me an e-mail saying if I’m having trouble accessing  my account to go away and change my cookie settings. There’s not a damned thing wrong with my cookies.  Back to customer service. They send me a link to change my password for the account that doesn’t access my debit card.  Back to customer service. Waiting. Another e-mail. Waiting. Yet another. Waiting. Have been at this since yesterday afternoon, and back at it since about 7:30 this morning. It’s after 10am now.  Just sent another e-mail that said something to the effect of, “Will you guys please get your shit together. I’m tired of paying $55/month for the privilege of playing this game — especially since you won’t let me play.”  Waiting.

And then, there’s Toshiba Ted. My dad used to tell me that if it has tires or testicles it’s eventually going to be trouble. He didn’t know about computers.

Ted has been in and out of the doctor’s office for the last week. Probably going back tomorrow.  It’s stupid stuff now.  When I push “internet explorer,” the little circle spins for awhile, then it stops. I push again. Same thing. By the time it finally decides to make an appearance, I have 26 home pages to delete to get back to one Google page.  And then I get a message that “Your browser session shut down unexpectedly. Do you want us to restore the session?” And I do. And it brings back about 6 blank pages again. And I delete them till I’m back down to one and start over.   I know. It’s the evil Internet Explorer. But, I’m a PC, and it’s what I’ve got.

The other problem is that Abbi told me I shouldn’t leave my computer on all the time because, just like my car, the engine shouldn’t run 24/7.  I learned a long time ago to do what Abbi tells me to do. Life’s just better that way. Especially since she’s usually right.

So, I’ve been letting Ted go to sleep when I’m not needing his help. Problem? He likes sleeping. When I massage the little plate that should rouse him from his slumbers, half the time he says, “Hell, No!” and I only get a grey screen. So…..I have to turn off the computer and re-boot.  But sometimes when I turn it off, it doesn’t want to go.  Keeps saying “shutting down,” and I get mesmerized by that damned circle twirling in front of my eyes for what seems like forever. Then I have to push the power button to turn him off, and we’re back to “Your browser session has closed unexpectedly……”

Is Ted trying to hypnotize me? What does he want from me? If my computer really is a guy, I’ll probably never know.  Maybe that’s the problem. I’ve got Doctor Robert working on Toshiba Ted, and all that testosterone in one place is screwing up the circuits or whatever is going on in the computer’s motherland/motherboard/motherf……… (oops).

Maybe it’s time Toshiba Ted had a sex change. I’ll talk to Dr. Robert when Ted goes to see him again tomorrow. We’re spending as much time at UCLA now as when we lived there.

And speaking of UCLA, I’m still waiting for JustAnswers.com to get a damned password-change code to me so I can make sure all my ducks are in a row before making the call I’d planned on making about 8:30 EDT this morning from my home-couch base  at 5:30 PDT. Waiting. Since for some reason I think the call should be made first thing in the morning, by the time I finally get a code, get into the system, submit my questions and get the answers back (which usually happens pretty quickly – they really are good when you can find them), that call will happen tomorrow morning.

It took me all afternoon yesterday sitting at Wendy’s messing around on the computer reading every legal document I’ve gotten from the-organization-and-people-from-UCLA-that-must-remain-nameless-because-I’m-not-allowed-to-say-anything-disparaging-about-them crew and crosschecking California law to make sure my assumptions are correct. And that time and even more time spent getting up my nerve to make this phone call because I really don’t want to deal with it anymore, but they owe me a good deal of money and there’s a principle involved. And you know how I am about principles. Damn. I’ve gotta quit doing the right thing. Bites me in the ass every time.

The other problem I had at Wendy’s was concentration. I kept seeing really obese parents feeding their getting-too obese kids cheeseburgers (“no vegetables, please”), fries, and those Wendy’s drinks that come with the kids meal — those things that are thicker than shakes and you can literally see the granules of sugar glistening off the chocolate. It was all I could do to keep from  bitch slapping people for the four hours I was there. (In answer to your question, I had a junior deluxe which includes lettuce and tomato, no mayo, and iced tea. I SO behaved.)

Of course, there are other things that don’t work…..like the trunk-release thingy inside my car. But I like that. If someone broke into my Chrysler convertible that has 100,000 miles on it and looks like it has lived on college campuses for six years, they couldn’t open the trunk — the trunk that is currently my closet. So, that thing that doesn’t work is a good thing.

And come to think of it, I’m not working either. So I guess it’s time to start answering that question with, “I’m a writer.” Which means I probably should quit blogging and start writing.

So until tomorrow when I’ll share the blog you should have gotten today (unless something else comes up), be careful out there.

 

WHAT TO DO?????

Three months in Vegas thanks to the Lovely Laurel. Check. (I probably need to go back. The Thunder was kicking butt when I was watching them in the sports books at the casinos. Watching from Abbi’s living room has cursed them.)

Three weeks at Abbi’s. Check. I want us to stay friends, so need to find a next step.

For now, the best option is to stay out of the house as much as possible so she can get her work done and have her (only child) necessary privacy. Her business is starting to thrive, and the last thing she needs is to be talking to a client on the phone with her mother  singing along with The Brooklyn Bridge or Bread in the living room.

Today’s goal was to find an internet cafe where I can write and do research without totally disturbing Abbi’s life. She’s being so gracious. And this is the best we’ve gotten along while living under her roof at the same time, but she’s become an official healthy-food Nazi. I appreciate her nagging me constantly to eat healthier, and she’s right. But after 6 years of chicken at least 4 times a week and way too much fish, if I never see either again it will be too early. She didn’t think my brown rice crispie bars (with marshmallow) were healthy — actually rolled her eyes. Showed her my Arctic Ice ice cream that has 150 calories in the whole pint, and she brought to my attention that even ice cream has sodium in it (about 8% of daily requirement). And I appreciate her having my best interests at heart. She wants me around to screw up her life for a very long time as much as I do. But I really need something sweet at night, and fruit doesn’t cut it. Had a huge bowl of apples, peaches, strawberries and blueberries the other night, and was starving in an hour. Obviously, it needed Cool Whip. Hit the pistacios, even though I know you shouldn’t eat nuts  at night because they’re hard to digest. Crap!

Being healthy is tough these days. Eat carbs. Don’t eat carbs. Load up on proteins. Cut back on proteins. Eat real sugar. Use Stevia. Eat red meat. Don’t eat red meat. Calcium melts body fat, but yogurt, cottage cheese, regular cheese are too high in fat. And the yogurt is loaded with sugar. Go vegetarian and use beans for protein. Beans are too high in carbs; avoid them. Eat whole grains. Wait.  Too many carbs. I had blood work a couple of weeks ago, and my cholesterol and sugar levels are high. I’m reading  labels on everything, but once I find the magical food with no cholesterol, no trans fats and low carbs, I look up at sodium content and find one serving yields over 30% of the daily allotment. I’m drinking Cherry Coke Zero and Stevia drinks like Steaz and Izzy, but there are no nutrients in either. I can handle iced tea, but it’s not my favorite thing to drink. And of course, sweet tea is out. Oh, and don’t eat anything with lemon because restaurants don’t usually wash them before serving.

And then, there are my strange proclivities. I don’t eat lamb because I’ve seen too many of their sweet little faces and feel they serve a better purpose growing up and getting shaved for their wool.  Can’t eat veal, because I know how much pain they go through to give us that tender meat. I haven’t eaten pork in years (except the occasional BLT because of the lettuce and tomato, of course), and won’t eat lobster because they mate for life. And I try to avoid fried food, which means I can never live south of Baltimore.

Evidently, even water isn’t good for us unless its non-chlorinated. Where the hell do you get that? Fruit — too much sugar. No white flour, no white sugar, no potatoes, no bananas. Brown sugar? Honey? It’s still sugar. Yams and sweet potatoes? Too high in sugar. Bananas? You need them for potassium, but bad on the evil sugar side of things.

Abbi fixed bbq chicken and veggies last night. I ate the veggies, and have to admit they were really filling and tasted great, but there was an ear of corn — again with the sugar content. I’m dyin’ out here. Of course, I still wanted something sweet later in the evening, and scarfed down a couple of her organic suckers. (Organic suckers? Are you freaking kidding me?) Shhhhhh. Don’t tell.

 

Anyway, back to the next step. I thought it was going to be a trip to Oklahoma for a couple of weeks to see friends and do research on a thriller that already has an agent. And it would kill time until my settlement (allegedly) hits in August. I’ve heard that line before. For four years.

Unfortunately, airline prices are off the chart. Which also eliminates the chance to go back to North Carolina to mine for gems with the beautiful Lynn Crislip Durham.

So maybe I’ll head north to the Bay area for awhile. My first rush crush has offered me her loft, and I’ve got a high school friend who will let me crash at her place. I could go to Book Passage every day with my computer, write, and see old friends.  Go to Left Coast Writers on Monday nights, get back with my Sisters in Crime group, maybe pop in on Mystery Writers or the North California Writers Group. That doesn’t seem like a bad idea. And I could check out boats and marinas. I did a little of that last weekend at Seal Beach and Long Beach. But if I’d only be north for a couple of weeks………

You’re going to laugh, but I discovered a few beaches in Cali that allow tent camping. I’ve never been a camper, but the idea of going to sleep every night to the sound of the surf washing over the shore really seems like a great option. After all, half the time I go to the beach I just spread out on a towel, close my eyes, and listen. And go to sleep. And read. And go to sleep. Those beaches have restrooms and hot showers, and I’ve got a feeling there would be fun people to hang with.

I could get a little generator for the computer, and already have a wireless router. Add a small grill, and I could make this work, and it reminds me of the vagabond days of my youth when I would throw everything I owned into my black Fiat 850 Spyder convertible and hit the road. Maybe it’s time again. Since I don’t know where I want to live anywhere, living nowhere might be the best option. And it would be an adventure.

After all, I still can’t leave Cali for long periods of time because I’m being held hostage by the Worker’s Comp system. So, unless I can get a decent airfare to OKC, research on the thriller has to hit the back burner. And I’m not sure I’m ready for the darkness a thriller brings into my spirit.

I could do a little work on the haunted campus theme — or the campus bars: there’s Effen’s at San Diego State, 901 at USC and the Bear’s Lair at Berkeley. Nothing of note at UCLA. Most of the drinking is done at the frats. Then, I’d be done. I’m thinking about doing a cozy (no overt violence, profanity, etc) about sorority house moms who interfere with police work a la Jessica Fletcher, and that could be a fun project.

Or I could do another memoir — even though I’ve always thought non-fiction wasn’t my schtick. I could call it, Starbucks and a Chrysler.

For now, I’m in a great internet cafe with real food instead of the small selection Starbucks offers. I had a frittata, cup of fruit and iced tea for breakfast. About two o’clock this afternoon, I’ll have a veggie wrap (and won’t tell Abbi about the Coke — because I really, really want one and haven’t indulged for awhile). So, I’ll honestly be able to tell her I (almost) ate healthy today. I’ll even pick up more strawberries and blueberries on the way home, just to reinforce my committment. OK, maybe I’ll pick up another pint of Arctic Ice. It only takes a few tablespoons to get over my craving for something sweet, and almost tastes like ice cream.

So until tomorrow, picture all the cartoon-like bubble clouds above me with ideas floating around in them. We’ll see which one falls and hits me in the head first. I’m up for anything at this point in time. You’re jealous. You know you are.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS…….

“What starts in Vegas stays in Vegas” has been their mantra ever since the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce decided to abandon the badly-thought-out strategy of making Vegas kid friendly. Evidently, my computer didn’t get that e-mail.

The hotel where I stayed before returning to LA had great internet service.  Unfortunately, it was unsecured. Toshiba Ted brought home 270 of his closest new friends, and has been in the shop since 8am on Monday morning.

Why hotels don’t put a password on their available sites is beyond me. I mean, how much effort does it take? So I’ve been out of touch for the last couple of days……and didn’t miss it.  The first thing I did yesterday when I booted up the computer was find the phone number for the hotel and call the manager. After all, I got so much more for my money than the website promised. Right?

I could go back to legal pads in a heartbeat — except I wouldn’t be able to keep in contact with all my FB friends. That, unbelieveably, I’d miss. Not the pictures of what they’re having for lunch, or how sick they are  (there are a couple who haven’t had a good day since 1931 – sometime before they were born. I could just as easily have inserted 1981, because I’ve got young-uns with the same problem), but for the most part it’s fun keeping up with families, joys, fun times, vacations, and unfortunately, heartaches and the loss of friends — even those I haven’t seen for years. And I love poking back and forth about politics — except for those who aren’t total assholes about it. Most of us understand that politics — and everyone involved in them — are so ridiculous these days that they’re all laughable. We just have to remember to laugh.

And speaking of friends I haven’t seen in years, I was bored at Abbi’s last weekend and started googling random names. Front and center was a guy I dated about a million years ago. If I could go back and change one thing in my life, it would be giving that relationship a chance to go to the next level, but I was too insecure. It’s a long story. But my knees still get a little weak when I see his picture in my college yearbook.

I e-mailed, him, he e-mailed me back, I e-mailed, he e-mailed me back. He’s probably still married, but it was so good to “hear him” again after all these years. We got to laugh back and forth, and it was so much fun. Without the internet, that wouldn’t have been possible. I’ve been smiling ever since.

And without the internet, I wouldn’t be able to communicate with all my college kids — so many of them, or reconnect with high school, college, work friends. And the friends I’ve met through other friends. I still can’t find our military peeps from Hawaii, and that’s sad. But looking up Sharon and Steve Smith…….not gonna happen. Won’t stop trying, though. Those 4 years were the end of my relationship with Bill (though we didn’t divorce until a couple of years later), but I made some great friends. The lady who took me under her wing and constantly re-assured me it was OK I no longer arranged my spices alphabetically by cooking or baking and followed up by offering her kids to babysit with the mini-munchkin Abbi so she could teach me to paint is someone I miss on a regular basis. Every time I look up at a canvas she gave me the skills to create, Rae Copeland jumps to the front of my mind. I’d give anything for another Thursday morning with her. The smell of turpentine, glasses of sweet tea, and the scramble to clean my clothes when a dot of cobalt blue landed on them (cobalt blue spreads into an impossible-to-remove ocean without provocation). And the time we ran into each other in the emergency room and she once again had to re-assure me that Abbi’s eating half a tube of Titanium White paint wasn’t dangerous; just annoying.

And research! How did people my age get through college? Hours in the stacks. Sleepless nights back before campus libraries were open 24/7 during mid-terms and finals. Boxes of NoDoze. Of course, this generation has a lot more information to absorb.

So, I guess I’ll keep Toshiba Ted, and we’ll continue this adventure. It looks like writing the two books that require living in a car for a year has jumped into first place on my priority list. I still can’t leave Cali until the W/C case is over  but I can hit all the Division I campuses up and down the west coast until that happens, and do research so I can map out a trip. And the friends I can kidnap to drink in campus bars with me along the way.

The next step will be to get the nerve to purchase a phone that does more than send and receive phone calls and takes pictures. I had to interrupt a couple making out on the beach to ask them to take a picture of the ocean at Newport Beach to use as a screen saver (is that what they’re called on phones?).

So, if you see a long rope moving in front of your house, it’s me being pulled into the current century.

Until tomorrow, be safe out there. I’ll see you then.

MOVING ON

Today is my last day in Vegas. Tomorrow morning, I’ll get my oil changed, fill the car and wash it, go send my love through the glass enclosure and cage to Kenny G, and head to LA to spend a couple of weeks with Abbi.

But yesterday was the absolutely, without a doubt, no questions asked best day I’ve had since March 1 when I arrived, because I got to have lunch with my very first rush crush as a house director and three of her new friends. The second I saw her I let out a squeal like a 16-year old and almost hugged the life out of her. So what if we were in the middle of the lobby at Planet Hollywood.

We laughed, talked about all the crazy stuff that happened during the two years we lived together under the same roof, and I kept saying, “that made the book!” She can’t wait to get her hands on it — partly so she can laugh at the person she and her friends were at 18, and partially to learn some of the things going on in the house that she didn’t know about. It was the happiest 2.5 hours I’ve had in a very long time that weren’t spent with Abbi.  I learned that all “my girls” from her pledge class (this gal and her cabal of friends — and you have no idea how hard it is not to divulge information about them so I won’t give away who they are in the book), have really good boyfriends, are happy in their jobs, and still talk on a regular basis. Sadly, unlike my first senior class who for the most part live in the same area and get together on a regular basis, their class has disbursed and they don’t get to see each other as often as they should.

We hadn’t been together very long before I realized something pretty amazing. I’ve given the house mom gig six years of my life — some has been hysterical, some depressing, I’ve had more than a couple of disguesting moments, and for the most part I’ve loved it. But that first year, 2006-2007 was my best.  I’m pretty sure no other experience could top the one I had with the original senior class members and 28 pledges that joined in the fall of ’06. Yes, there were two other classes, but somehow it all comes down to the ones who were getting ready to graduate and those who were just feeling their way into college life.

Of that first senior class, there are practicing attorneys, two Naval officers, a Facebook millionaire, a couple who are almost doctors, several with multiple degrees, and one who started her own business. Two are already married, and this spring/summer is marriage season for several more of them. Our first pledge class gave me a batch of new babies who are also now college grads or in grad school. Being able to watch the lives of these two groups of young women evolve has been fun, exciting, and has brought me unspeakable joy.

And the thing that brings me more happiness than I can ever express is that of the 140+ girls I got to live with in those four semesters and the live-out girls we didn’t have beds for, about 120 of them are still in contact with me through Facebook. We still have each others numbers on our phones — and use them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been so blessed. I’ve had the opportunity to live with four different houses of the orneriest, rowdiest, smartest, funniest, rule-bend-ing-est young women who have changed my life forever. My Facebook friends are about 70% past and present college kids from the University of Central Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, (one campus that will not be mentioned), San Deigo State, UCLA and USC. Where other house directors might not ever hear from their girls after graduation, so many are still in my life.

By the time I got back to the car after lunch yesterday, I was crying. I realized that unless something very dramatic happens, I’m hanging up my blue, fluffy robe. At least for now.

In fall of ’13, Alpha Gamma Delta  is colonizing at USC and has petitioned to re-open on UCLA. The housing director at national headquarters and I are already talking about the possibility of me taking one of those houses. And I loved the Alpha Gams at UCO so much, it would be an honor to be a part of their new chapters.

But for now, the robe is retired and we’ll see what the next year brings. I’m excited about the possibilities. And the adventures. I may head north for awhile, because I really miss my writing community. Or I may hit the road with the top down on a car that  looks like it’s been on college campuses for the last 6 years. I don’t even care if I end up living in Starbucks by day and a Chrysler by night. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings….and the day after that……

And thanks for putting up with my crap as this unfolds.

Waiting for a call from my attorney, but after that am hitting the pool to flop around in the water (still can’t swim because I can’t move my neck), lay out, and maybe sit in the shade to read. Tonight  may bring a trip to Bahama Breeze — this is no big deal to most of you, but we used to have one on Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City and it closed. I’ll never figure that one out. But they were always a favorite, so a mojito might be a good idea. Then, maybe back to Terrible’s sports book to watch the Celtics/Heat to see what the competition looks like. As of last night, the sportscasters after the game were giving the Ship to The Thunder. ESPN’s website has a picture of Durant running towards the camera captioned, “The beginning of a new era,” and the next story was that the Heat is looking for a free agent.

And weren’t you impressed how everyone from the owner, to the general manager, to the coach, to all the players were such class acts last night during the Championship ceremony? No egos, no glory, just “we play for each other, we’re a family,” and the fact that this team gives so much credit to their fans.  This team, and everyone surrounding it, is a class act.

See you tomorrow. As Holmes would say, “The Game Is Afoot!”

 

 

 

 

THE DAVIS DOLLAR – AND HOW IT COULD CHANGE OUR COUNTRY

When I saw on the news yesterday that Davis, California (population: 65,622 according to the 2010 US Census) and home to UC Davis (it’s hard to tell how much of that number is due to the 32,290 student body, since only about 5700 live on campus) was printing its own currency, I stopped playing Slingo and started paying attention.

When the news report was over, I hopped onto the Huffington Post site and found an article that had just been released. Davis, California is getting it right. They’re printing money that can only be spent in Davis. It’s designed to give a financial advantage to the local business. Here’s part of the article:

 

“Spend one dollar at a big box store and only about 6 to 10 cents of that stays local. And if you spend that money at a local mom and pop shop, about 60 cents stay local … And if you spend one Davis Dollar locally, 100 cents of that stay local,” Barry told Fox News. Since the currency is only accepted inside the city, it ensures that the entire value stays local.

People can buy the dollars through the movement’s website or at a weekly farmers market. Business can redeem a single Davis Dollar for $0.95.

 

Here’s the bigger picture.  If you consider that only 40% of gift certificates are ever redeemed, and the store gets to keep the money anyway, this is huge.  How many trips have you taken abroad and come home with foreign currency and coins. You’re never going to spend them because even if you went back to Russia tomorrow, you’d forget you had money from the last trip. They got your dollars the first time at the currency exchange, and you’re handing over more for this trip.

So, I started thinking.

What if states started doing the same — or bigger — what if the states started seceding (I think big) and clumped together to form new states.

For instance, what if West Virginia and Pennsylvania formed WestVirpennia(because Pennsylginia just sounds strange) and sold their coal without government regulation?

Or Nevada seceded and didn’t have to share the wealth. They could even keep the money from the over 5,000,000 visitors to their 3 national parks. Hawaii makes its money off of tourists. Except for purchasing a house, it was cheaper for our family to live in Pacific Palisades, HI  than after we got transferred to Denver. No state tax. Rebates on electric bills at the end of the year. Local discounts at hotels, attractions, etc.  Why should they be responsible for paying other states’ debts?

Or Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana merged to form Oklatexla and threw their oil into the world market. Unregulated. Granted, that would hurt the Middle East and Halliburten, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice. Add Arkansas for Branson and some scenery and you get Oktexarkla.  They would then be able to regulate what foreign oil companies were — or were not — allowed to clutter their landscapes or be given the opportunity to pollute our Gulf or oceans. And tax the hell out of them for the privilege of doing so.

Of course, there are some downsides to this one:  my friend, John Hefner would have to start growing something on all the land he’s bought up in Oklahoma that — you’re gonna love this — the government pays him not to plant. Yup, my friends, the you and I  made my friend a millionaire by paying him not to plant anything. But the good news for John is that he could now sell that land to people who want to be self-sustaining like the beautiful Samantha Joelle Honey Lamb, and once again everyone wins.

Another downside would be that The Bush Boys might decide to run for office and bankrupt us again (I know, I know. You blame Obama. But he inherited the bankruptcy and it’s his fault because he hasn’t pulled us out of it in four years), but I’ve got a solution for that one, too.

Since, according to the US Congress, a woman is only worth 77% of what a man is worth in the workplace, these new states/commonwealths/nations could be run by women. We’ve been cleaning up mens messes since the beginning of time anyway, so the big, strong men could be out doing whatever the hell it is they do all day while we’re working our cute little butts off at the desk next to them for 23% less pay.  The new area could be run by a committee rather than elected offices, and since women control most of the money and all of the sex anyway, they could have their areas out of debt in no time flat.

And within a couple of years, we could make enough profit to get our veterans, women and children and the men who want to work off the streets and into jobs, and those who need medical care could get it if we worked things right. And I believe a committee of strong, independent women could pull that off.  Hell. Oktexarkla could buy up California’s debt and designate it as their recreation area.  “Redneck Retreat” and Oktexarkla would become even more healthy because of the tourist industry that’s already there. Since they’d govern their own airports, we could mandate airlines to give direct flights so people in (formerly) Oklahoma wouldn’t have to survive a layover in Pittsburgh to get there.

I believe that on a smaller level, without having to attach paragraphs to bills to fund treadmills for shrimp, the individual conglomorates could handle themselves just fine. Together, our localized economies could contribute to paying off the federal government’s debt — because it would be the right thing to do. Each new state could determine its own tax structure: percentage of earnings? flat sales tax?  And, like Hawaii and Nevada, each could charge tourist taxes. If a new area didn’t handle its budget well enough to stay in business, it could be purchased by another unit. Responsibility, my friends, not excuses.

And the currency exchanges would mean that each state would get to keep the proceeds from those “foreign” coins/paper money that tourists took home with them and now clutter a drawer in their dressers.

I know there are glitches. This only came to me at three o’clock this morning. But what we’ve got now isn’t working. The people who are qualified to run this country are too busy running their own lives to be bothered with messing with mine — so they don’t run for office. We’ve got a system where promises are made during campaigns, but there’s no power to make those dreams a reality because once that person is elected, he/she is slurped into a blue or red suit and expected to vote along party lines — or not get any help for their own state. The President has no authority to make his campaign promises a reality unless his party controls the legislative branch of our government. He can only sign into law what comes across his desk. Cooperation got flushed down the toilet a long time ago. Lobbyists have more power than constituents. We have a clump of legislative bullies who won’t vote for anything the President wants, no matter how much sense it makes. We’re bailing out big business’s BAD business while ignoring education, the homeless, our veterans……No one at that level is thinking about what’s best for The Good Old U S of A anymore. They’re too busy measuring dicks (with apologies to the females in office, who may or may not have the guts to – as My Princess would say — pull their balls out of their purses) to make a difference.

I don’t know how we can get the country back on track again, but something has to happen pretty damned quickly or China is going to call in its debt and we’ll all be speaking Mandarin.

And now, I’m going to the pool.

See you tomorrow.

 

 

 

THINGS I DON’T GET

Besides “married to the right person…….”

Went to Terrible’s on Flamingo last night to watch The Thunder almost get me to heart-attack status again, but this time, was surrounded by smokers and came home smelling like a luau pit. But that’s OK. Made some “friends,” talked some trash, got to yell at the top of my lungs, and enjoyed turning around and saying, “It’s getting pretty quiet over there.” Hell. These guys don’t care who wins, they just care if they won their bets.

I was lucky and got the end seat in front of the two TV’s that were at eye level, and they were right beside two ATM machines. All night long, my eyes were diverted because I realized the ATM machines were getting more action with the slots. Some people got lucky. Evidently it was the only machine that popped money in their direction that night. Others, not so much. I watched one woman go through her first, second, and third  cards and I could see just enough of the screen to see the words “available balance.”  One by one, she pushed “cancel” and put the next one in. After the third, she walked away. It happened over and over and over again.  Let me get this right.  “I’ve been losing all night, so let’s go get more money and keep the lights turned on in Vegas.”

Maybe it would be a better option to go have a $9.99 steak, maybe go to the bar and have a drink, or head back to the room to watch TV. The slots do not love you tonight. They probably never will. It’s slots that keep even more casinos being built in an already over-populated-with-glitzy-casinos-town.

I miss the days (I know – freaking old) when Vegas meant glamour. Everyone dressed up to go to the less than ten casinos, real stars were at all of them, and they’d travel the tunnels underneath the casinos to pop in and perform with friends in other houses. Then the glitz started — with Circus Circus, of course, and everything went straight downhill after that.  Bye Bye Stardust, Sahara, Flamingo, Desert Inn. Did you know the original casinos weren’t even in Las Vegas? They were outside the city limits. The “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign was about 4 miles outside of town. Now, Vegas is on its way to merging with Los Angeles.

Anyway, the whole demographic has changed. BackInTheDay, women played the slots, and men played poker and blackjack. And everyone played craps when they got drunk, because like fishing, you can’t be too drunk to play craps. Now, it seems there are at least as many stupid men as stupid women. They ain’t called “one-arm-bandits” for nothing — but you don’t even have to pull the arm anymore. That would take effort. Now, you can push buttons all night — until the one on the ATM tells you to go home.

I’m a risk-taker in just about every area of my life, but I’ve never understood gambling. I used to date a guy who would take me to Vegas four times a year, hand me money to gamble, hand me more when I ran out, and split the winnings with me when we left. We only played blackjack and gai pow poker, and that was fun, because whether I won or lost I went home with money.

Then I went on a cruise and played blackjack with my own money, and found it wasn’t nearly as much fun.  Abbi and her friend, Dayna had better luck. They were young, absolutely adorably gorgeous, effervescent, and knew how to flirt. The dealer walked them through every play. I wasn’t young or cute any more, and evidently I wasn’t effervescent enough, because I was on my own. I didn’t stay long. I left to buy a gold charm for my bracelet. At least I’d have something to show for my investment.

The people who win are the professionals. The top 10% of any sport are the pro’s. They know it takes time, patience, continued education, and money for them to win. But they play poker. Pro blackjack players don’t last long in casinos because they’re asked to leave under the (correct) assumption that they’re counting cards. The rest of us schmucks? We’re lucky to leave Vegas with the airline ticket we came in with. I’d rather bet on jewelry. Or good purses. At least those can be sold for gold weight or on e-bay.

 

But there are so many other things I don’t understand.

Like how some people can wear clothes in public that make them look — well — not good. I can almost visualize them in a department store putting on outfit after outfit after outfit and buying the one they’re wearing because, after looking in a three-way mirror, they honestly believed that was the one that looked the best on them.

And I don’t get the people who go to Walmart and bitch because they’re standing in line. They’re always going to stand in line at Walmart. That’s why God put the McDonald’s close to the exit — so you can send someone to buy you a burger and fries and not starve while you’re waiting to get to a checker — who puts up a “line closed” sign right before they get to you.

Target isn’t a whole lot better, but they have popcorn. I’d rather have popcorn anyday. Sadly, their popcorn and coke special has gone up dramatically. At started at about 99 cents and is now at $2.00. It’s still a bargain. Popcorn (and tacos) may be nature’s perfect foods.

Here’s another one. I don’t understand why men my age — and older — want to date 20 year olds. Yes, I understand that they have those firm butts and perky boobs, but what do they have to talk about? What music can they share? I understand some of my high school classmates are guilty of having “married the young.”  They seemed so smart BackInTheDay.  And the only reason I can see “the young” dating/marrying someone my age is (surprise) for their money. I guess they figure if they (fill in the blank) enough, they’ll kill the geezer off and get all his property/cars/loot. But what if he’s healthy. What if the blue pills work? That young thing may be in for a very long investment in time. I mean, really. Why not rebuild the one you’ve got. Just look at Ann Romney. There’s not an inch of that woman that has moved in years. (OK, slam me, but you know it’s true. She could go through a full-blown Oklahoma tornado and not one hair would move. And that is so NOT a political statement.)

And why do we think we need to get rebuilt anyway? I’m 65. I’m proud of it. I’ve earned it. No, my body isn’t perfect anymore. But my heart, my soul, and my spirit are stronger (and perkier) than they were when I was 20. And I know football and basketball. And cook. And after living with about 65 college girls every year for the lasts 6 years. I can put up with just about anything. I didn’t even like Me at 20. But at 65? I’m a hell-of-a-broad, and loving every strange and unpredictible minute of it.

And what about the guys. How can a man who is hanging over his speedo to the point it’s invisible say out loud, “You know, if you’d loose 10 pounds, you’d be hot.”

I dated a guy back in Oklahoma who was 6’9, had a bald, rippling (kind of like a roller coaster) head with that little halo around the bald spot, wore glasses so thick they looked like Coke bottle bottoms, had pasty white skin, wore zinc acid (that white stuff) on his nose when he went in the sun, had feet that were way too big (the rumor is SO not true), and a flabby body. He stood buck naked in front of his bedroom mirror and actually said out loud, “You know, if I had to change anything about myself, I’d add hair.” I wanted to say, “You’re kidding me, right?”  Dan was a photographer who specialized in boudoir photography. After we stopped dating (he was a lousy bridge partner), everytime he’d tell me he was dating someone new (usually someone he’d met in one of those boudoir shoots) , I’d ask, “Is she in therapy?” He’d just growl.  The last time I saw him he was with a woman almost his height and almost as homely. Guess he ran out of girls with new boob jobs who would go out with him.

And I don’t understand why nobody has adopted Kenny G. I’m going back to PetSmart today and pray he’s not there. He deserves so much better. If any of you guys know anyone in or near Vegas, he’s at the shop on Decater. Have them call me. I’ll give them directions.

So, until tomorrow, I’m off to run errands and go see Kenny. Be careful out there.